Hal Fuller, 61, a member of “Gendertalk” for years and a bisexual and transgender activist, died on March 28, 2011 after a long illness. His “family” was his queer family, Marcia Deihl and Rob B. Many of us create our families, and our families take care of us at the end of life when our biological families cannot. This poem is dedicated to any bisexual woman who thinks she’s “too far out there” for love. Courage! “Never put a period where the Spirit has put a semi-colon.”
The day before you died, there you were before me— beautiful at your worst, semi-conscious and groaning, grimacing at some unknown assailant and stinking of puke.
Feeling silly and impotent, I tried to say the right thing, but there was no right thing. I told you I loved you, and I went on to sing any lullaby I could think of.
“Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry, go to sleep you little baby,” When you wake you shall have all the pretty little horses. . .”
But I felt like an imposter, a drama queen, a character in my own movie. This was about you, not me; horses are a girl’s dream, and you always chose a dragon for your mount.
(The prayers of others help me breathe.)
I can still see you in your glory, honey-deep southern DJ voice, layers of necklaces beneath a flannel shirt, that smutty-sweet Ashely smile that emerged when you felt safe.
Then I said, or something said, “You can go, now. It’s OK if you want to go now.”
“If religion were a thing that money could buy. Well, the rich would live and the poor would die, All my sorrows will soon be over.”
I kissed your forehead and my tears plopped onto the sparkly purple early Easter basket you never received.
I called your latest place the next day to yell at them to take better care of you— but wouldn’t that just have meant hospitals, IVs, more suffering?– They asked if I were family (yes, as much as you had family), and then they said with infinite kindness, “I’m so sorry, but he died this morning.”
Shock and relief.
(The prayers of others: a soft bird in my hand.)
Like with my father— a decade of suffering as hard to watch as to endure but this time I was there to say goodbye.
No more suffering. I don’t know if there’s a heaven, but you had lived in nursing home hell for way too many years.
No one knows how many thousands of sweet secrets we shared, like any couple, but completely unlike any couple, (which is also like any couple).
At times we were at odds, you stubborn old diva, but one forgets those times after nine years apart.
(The prayers of others: a flannel blanket ‘round my shoulders.)
So, who’s going to pay for the ashes? The money I can handle, but how is it that I, a small person made of vapor, can carry such a thing?
Staring into space Keeping up appearances at work. Oddly, one the articles I have to scan is entitled: “The Hall of Dragon Metamorphoses.”
(Hey, thanks for the sign— I’d asked for one.)
The biggest gift: that we found each other at all.
How many French horn playing, pudgy-ass, show-offy excruciatingly self-conscious high school drama nerds waiting to explode out of their small town corsets can there be? How many raggedy two-spirit fifty-year-old shaman Kinsey-2 bisexual mavens of bizarre song and weird news can there be?
(The prayers of others gentle me back to earth.)
How glorious that we found such a love in a world that condemns checkerboard lovers when any love is hard enough to come by.
Did I ever tell you that your gentle touch redeemed my reeking pile of ancient hungers, that your tidal waves of love, male and female, gentle and fierce, were the jewel of my life?
Marcia Deihl, 4/21/11.
Editor’s note: Marcia is a co-founder of BBWN